Meredith’s wind-energy law will be overturned as soon as newly elected board members take office, two of them said this week.
Democrat Keitha Capouya, who won the supervisor race against Republican Roger Hamilton, said Wednesday that banning industrial wind turbines is “clearly what the town wants.”
Capouya said rewriting the wind law “is the only way we can get on to other business.”
Democratic Councilman-elect Ron Bailey said, “We absolutely are going to revise the law. We campaigned from the beginning on the promise to ban the big turbines.”
Bailey said the group of Democratic candidates, who also ran on the independent Meredith Unity line, is not opposed to small-wind projects, and they plan on exploring all forms of green energy.
“We plan to form a task force to explore solar, small-wind and geo-thermal energy,” Bailey said. “We hope to find a project that benefits everyone in town. We are certainly concerned about global warming and renewable energy.”
He said most of the benefits leave the town with big-wind projects; with small projects, the benefits remain local.
“One of the things I objected to when the wind law was being crafted was that I never saw any evidence of research and study by anyone on the present town board,” Bailey said.
Capouya, Bailey and their running mate, Daniel Birnbaum, will control the majority vote on the five-member board, which will also include Paul Menke and Hamilton. Menke and Hamilton are each in the second year of four-year terms.
Bailey said he looks forward to serving on the board.
“I don’t want it to be contentious,” Bailey said. “I want it to work harmoniously. We are not always going to agree and although we ran as a team, the three of us don’t always agree.
“But we will do things openly and with transparency,” Bailey added. “I am an old journalist and open meetings are built into my DNA. We want people to know what the issues are.”
Capouya said the behavior of the town board throughout the process of writing and adopting the wind law gave people the feeling that “nobody could trust what the town board was doing.”
Hamilton said Wednesday that he has come to terms with the fact that there is going to be a ban on industrial wind projects.
“But I will probably be voting against changing the law,” Hamilton said.
Outgoing Meredith Supervisor Frank Bachler said he expects the group to change the local wind law.
“They said they would do that,” Bachler said Thursday. “But I don’t agree with it. It is a good law that is very restrictive without banning wind and it also deals with agricultural and residential wind projects.”
He said changing the law will require a public hearing on other processes needed before adopting a law.
“They have to be careful, or they could open the door for a lawsuit against the town from a developer,” Bachler said. “Although I don’t think there are any developers that are interested in a wind project in Meredith.”
He said he felt the Meredith Unity candidates “ran a campaign that was very divisive and caused a lot of division in the town. I really take umbrage at the accusations that Meredith’s government was not democratic. I always ran open meetings and invited comment.
“There is a lot of anger,” Bachler continued. “I have to wish them good luck, and I will try to make the transition as smooth as possible.”
Bailey said, “My hope is that we can do some things besides the ordinary town business.”
Among that business, Capouya said, is to form an agricultural task force to work with farmers and a committee to study and revise the subdivision regulations to make them more environmentally friendly.
“When we wrote the subdivision regulations, we didn’t know enough,” Capouya said. “We are learning all the time.
“I think this can be a town where things can be done in a good and environmental way,” she said.
By Patricia Breakey
9 November 2007
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